I’ve finally stopped rolling my eyes hard enough to talk about Ray J and his new single “I Hit It First.” This (terrible) track is basically three minutes and 20 seconds of shade thrown at Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, based on the well-known fact that Ray J was Kim’s partner in the infamous sex tape that put her on the radar. Amidst Kim Kardashian’s ever growing fame, Ray J is here to remind us that he “hit it first,” and made her the person she is today.
One of my favorite contemporary subjects is what I like to call “hoe politics.” It is the modern language, messages, dialogue, and critique spawned from the concept that there is a such thing as too much sex for a woman to have. This is not a new concept. Womens’ sexualities have been shamed and punished for centuries in attempts to maintain patriarchy. But in the year 2013, with the help of our friends the internet and the social media, hoe shaming is at all time high, decorated with complexities and layers that make it almost interesting to witness. Ray J’s…ahem, ode to his former lover is a perfect example of how the art of hoe shaming works.
A couple of months ago I wrote about being interested in how Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy would be juxtaposed against her perceived sexuality. Ray J gracefully released his record right in the middle of a pregnancy that Kim has spent most of her time defending in the first place. According to the logic of hoe politics, Kim Kardashian is a hoe, but she’s a special kind of hoe as a soon-to-be mother.
But this specific attempt at hoe shaming is not actually about Kim at all. It’s about her partner, Kanye West. “Hit it First” is first and foremost a diss to Yeezy. What exactly did he do to deserve this? He committed treason under the Hoe Political Regime: He turned a hoe into a housewife. Not exactly, of course, since Kim Kardashian is actually a pretty hardworking career woman and not Ye’s wife. But he publicly expresses love and loyalty to a woman who is constantly ostracized for her sexuality. Here we see how women’s bodies and sexual histories are used not only to judge their character but also the characters of men around them. Using women as a pawn in their own petty rivalries is another harmful exertion of masculinity.
If all this seems silly and trivial, it’s because it is. But do not doubt the art of hoe shaming and its power. As you can see, Ray J has called upong this tradition to place himself in the limelight and boost record sales. “I Hit It First” has over 9 million views.
Hoe shaming is multidimensional and multifaceted, and hoe politics are complex and have different layers. They coincide with the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality all the time. Just look around you: The Hoe Political Regime has surrounded us with propaganda like this.
Ray J, his song, and this image are all reminders of the fact that women are constantly navigating their sexuality within a system that insists that our bodies are not our own.